In despair, it is common to hear people saying, “There is nothing I can do about it.” This is the most irregular statement ever made by any person pursuing survival. Such people are worse than those who woke Jesus up when the ship was about to sink due to turbulent winds. Jesus described them as having had no faith. But such people were better than those choosing to do nothing during such circumstances.
As Zimbabwe wobbles in unprecedented challenges, we have those causing it to be in that Condition. But we also have those having maintained efforts to keep it afloat. The only group that must be viewed as worst and most unacceptable are those doing nothing. Yet these are the people who are assumed to be peace-loving, as getting along with whatever prevails. They seem to validate the Biblical example, revealed by the apostle John in the book of Revelation:
“These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich, and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness, and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see” (Revelation 3:14-18) (NIV).
The above Scripture makes being neither cold nor hot, a behavior that is highly unacceptable. Those categorized as cold are in one extreme, as compared with those categorized as hot. The Lord appears as not so much worried about the other categories, except the lukewarm ones. He knows how to deal with the hot or cold ones. It is the lukewarm, who the Lord indicates as wishing to spit out of His mouth.
These are known to be people preferring doing nothing, in the face of whatever goes on in the environment. But, if we are to be fair as to be on their side, we can diagnose causes for their behavior. They actually display preoccupation with also desiring to survive, like everyone else. But they prefer calculating advantages according to what prevails at any given time. They adjust according to the environment, rather than being concerned with adjusting the environment.
If those on the category of being cold, appear as winning, they would be with them. Whereas, if the hot ones would appear as winning, they would, invariably be on their side too. They appear as occupying the safest condition, in terms of common sense. But how different can they be, from the dead bodies? A dead body is compliant, as not to resist either cold or hot conditions.
The lukewarm ones are considered as most peaceful. They, actually, pride themselves, when regarded as peace-loving. Those people are mostly considered as dedicated Christians, in their environments. When expressing zeal for God, it would always be about themselves. They always appreciate what God does for them and always asking for more blessing, each day.
That looks innocent. But these are the people who the Lord indicates desiring to spit from His mouth. Of what benefit would they be? Although they shouldn’t be mistaken with those regularly praying for peace in the environment. The lukewarm limit prayers to asking God to provide necessary provisions, for them and their families. They are not so much concerned about those unable to access survival provisions like them. In Short, these are the self-centered people.
How about those on the extreme side of being cold? The cold are not included among those that the Lord desires to spit out of His mouth, though being counterproductive. The lukewarm are those that Jesus said were hypocrites. Tax Collectors were considered as worst sinners. To them, it seemed God never existed in their vocabulary. Yet Jesus appears as still loving them.
Jesus, actually, blessed Zacchaeus, who was one of the Chief Tax Collectors (Luke 19:1-10). He also gave a parable about two people who went to pray. One a Pharisee and the other a Tax Collector. The comparison of the two shows that the Tax Collector went home justified, rather than the Pharisee, who considered himself as religious.
“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ ‘But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ ‘I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted’” (Luke 18:9-14) (NIV).
The real significance of this shows that the religious Pharisee was neither hot nor cold. He enjoyed getting along in his self-righteousness. Of course, the ordinary people of that time saw nothing wrong with that behavior. He was probably one of those highly respected for religiosity. The Pharisee was not as sinful as the Tax Collector who could not control his indulgence in corruption. The Tax Collector meets the typical example of coldness, while the Pharisee meets the example of being lukewarm, according to Rev. 3:14-18.
The idea of feeling comfortable, when sure of doing what the law requires, reduces one into being lukewarm. The reason being that one cannot be relied upon to change the environment for the better. One would be protected, indeed, as long as not indulging in sinful activities. But such a person would not be trusted to change the environment. When carefully observed from that angle, one sees the majority of Christians being not different from the referred Pharisee.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. ‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).
If anyone would like to describe true Christianity, this can be the simplest passage to quote. There is no need to think about various other Scriptures in the Bible, when applying this particular one, according to its intent. It simply points to the hotness that the apostle John was talking about in Rev. 3:14-18. There is no need to coax religiosity into an individual.
The cause of the Tax Collector’s justification excludes religiosity. The Lord saw, in the Tax Collector, a being who could not extricate himself from the entanglement of sin—encompassing the entire humanity. Therefore, to become hot, one needs to be fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit, through Jesus. The first-century apostles, including Paul, could, actually, be counted as having been hot.
Peter and his colleagues had suddenly become hot, yet having been quite warm during the trial of Jesus, at Gethsemane. They became willing to also die for the cause that had led Jesus to die on the cross. That hotness was projected in Peter’s sermon, on the day of Pentecost, leading to thousands of those Jews being converted. Peter then showed them the way to obtain fuel for the needed hotness.
“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. ‘The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call’” (Acts 2:37-39) (NIV).
Without the Holy Spirit-inspired fuel, it cannot be possible for any person to reach the hotness that the apostle John prophesied about in Rev. 3:14-18. This is a wake-up call to those assuming that pure righteousness requires human effort. Instead, it requires the humility that is followed by accepting Jesus as one’s personal Savior. True repentance is not about ecstasy for personal salvation. But it is the realization that one is a sinner, regardless of having all along pretended to be good.
The only way one can realize his shortcomings is by the condition of his own environment. The unsustainable sinful condition signifies the lack of effectiveness of the person calling Himself a Christian. The presence of one Christian makes a huge difference in any environment. Such effectiveness requires the Holy Spirit-inspired fuel. To receive such a Spirit requires repentance, implying renouncing everything previously considered as right.
It is not possible to renounce something that a person does not acknowledge as wrong in his own life. The idea of hypocrisy is driven by always desiring to be seen as good, by others. The problem with hypocrisy is that it gives a sense of feeling good. It cannot be possible for a person struggling with hypocrisy to ever accept being a hypocrite. This is what makes repentance a real challenge for most people. See [The origin of hypocrisy in human nature].
Hypocrisy is the state of comfort that makes a person remain in the condition of being lukewarm. Only the Lord is required for the necessary changes in the environment. But the Lord cannot do anything unless there are people who are willing to be used by Him. Willingness to be used by God requires discarding that which a person feels uncomfortable to surrender.
This could be pride, sustained by educational achievements. It could be money or political status in society. Others hold political positions, not for purposes of serving. But for purposes of personal aggrandizement. Although, possible that God could be using some of those politicians for the good of everyone. Painting all politicians with the same black brush is wrong.
What is desirable is for one to allow God to use one, for the good of everyone, regardless of background. All humans have the potential of being God’s children. When refusing to come out of the condition of hypocrisy, it becomes impossible for God to enter into that person’s life. Hypocrisy is a door that makes it impossible for God to ever come into someone’s life.
“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne” (Rev. 3:19-21) (NIV)
Any human being, regardless of educational, or religious background, gender, or political affiliation, can be used by God. The sad thing is that we have those putting themselves in positions of authority, thereby invalidating self-determinism on those who God could be using. I have written a great deal about the misapplication of Scriptures in Church leadership. There is no doubt in my mind that there are sincere people who desire to obey God. But being hindered from doing so by those assuming the authority that God never granted to them.
Another way of service could simply be that of disseminating valuable information to others. Depending on how sincere the person might be in serving God that way. But it would be like stifling the Holy Spirit when deliberately avoiding to cascade valuable information to others. God’s work should not be attached to personalities. Being used by God, at any given time, does not make one better than others. God can enter into any person’s life, as long as willing to allow Him in.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99
Also available as an e-copy at Lulu.com for $6.99